Good a slap in the face for the Brussel's Sprouts.
As an engineer I think metric but as a drinker I think pints...
Metric 'martyrs' win fight to save imperial measures
Traders who sell food using imperial measures are to escape prosecution after the Government backed down.
By David Barrett and David Harrison
Last Updated: 12:04AM BST 18 Oct 2008
Imperial versus metric: Victory for 'metric martyrs' as EU surrenders
Councils will be banned from taking the so-called "metric martyrs" to court for "essentially minor offences" such as selling goods weighed in pounds and ounces.
The decision is believed to have been prompted by the case of Janet Devers, the east London market trader who had to pay nearly £5,000 in costs and received a criminal record earlier this month after a prosecution brought by Hackney council.
John Denham, the Innovation Secretary, will issue guidelines within months that prevent local authorities taking traders to court. He said: "It is hard to see how it is in the public interest, or in the interests of consumers, to prosecute small traders who have committed what are essentially minor offences."
Although metric measurements have been taught in British schools since the 1970s, many people are still more familiar with the old-style measures, particularly when it comes to purchasing food.
Tens of thousands of market traders across the country risk prosecution on a daily basis by serving customers using imperial measures. The imperial system is prevalent in other industries such as clothing, motoring and pubs, where inches, miles and pints are commonly used.
John Gardner, chairman of the British Weights and Measures Association, which has been campaigning for reinstatement of imperial measures since 1995, said: "This is a very significant development. Our view is that prosecuting someone for selling in pounds and ounces can never be in the public interest because it involves no misrepresentation, fraud or inaccuracy."
Metric measurements were first introduced after Britain's decision to join in 1973 what was then the Common Market. There have been six prosecutions since the law was changed to make it illegal to trade in imperial measures.
In 2000, legislation introduced by the Conservative government came into force, leading to the first metric martyr prosecution, that of Steve Thoburn, a Sunderland market stall holder.
His case, along with three others, went to the Court of Appeal, where the convictions were upheld. There was widespread anger over the prosecutions, which cost the taxpayer hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Mr Thoburn's wife, Leigh, pleaded with him to end his crusade, saying it was placing undue strain on his health and his family. He died of a heart attack in 2004.
In Mrs Devers's case, the 64-year-old stallholder's imperial scales were seized and she was charged with 12 separate offences under weights and measures law.
After her conviction, she said: "I've been made a scapegoat. To get a criminal record for this is absolutely outrageous. There are 30 other stalls in my market doing what I'm doing, and yet they have chosen to prosecute me."
Neil Herron, campaign director of the Metric Martyrs, whose original fighting fund was supported by £100,000 in donations from readers of The Sunday Telegraph, gave a cautious welcome to the Government's new stance. He said: "This is good news but it's just a start. We need the law to be changed. So long as the law is there, any rogue local authority could go ahead with a prosecution."
Last September, Gunther Verheugen, the EU trade commissioner, said Brussels had abandoned its policy of forcing Britain to go metric. He said: "Pounds and ounces are in no way under threat from Brussels and never will be.''